“I gave the girl my protection, offering in my equivocal way to be her father. But I came too late, after she had ceased to believe in fathers. I wanted to do what was right, I wanted to make reparation: I will not deny this decent impulse, however mixed with more questionable motives: there must always be a place for penance and reparation. Nevertheless, I should never have allowed the gates of the town to be opened to people who assert that there are higher considerations that those of decency. They exposed her father to her naked and made him gibber with pain, they hurt her and he could not stop them (on a day I spent occupied with the ledgers in my office). Thereafter she was no longer fully human, sister to all of us. Certain sympathies died, certain movements of the heart became no longer possible to her. I too, if I live longer enough in this cell with its ghost not only of the father and the daughter but of the man who even by lamplight did not remove the black discs from his eyes and the subordinate whose work it was to keep the brazier fed, will be touched with the contagion and turned into a create that believes in nothing.”
— Waiting for the Barbarians, J. M. Coetzee.

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